Posts Tagged ‘anxiety’

When it Rains it Floods

The Art Tree

Little Treasures of Home

The first thing I reached for when the creek started rising, was a picture of my son at the ocean when he was about five years old.  It’s my favorite photo.   He’s wearing a little pair of blue jeans rolled up above his ankles, walking in the sand and looking down at the waves barely covering his small bare feet.

I placed the photo carefully in the plastic tub I was using to hold my most cherished belongings.

I wasn’t ready for a flood, but I should have been.  Along with my rental lease when I moved six months ago, I signed a statement informing me that the apartment is in a flood zone.

I didn’t read the paper I signed.  I was desperate for a place to live. 

An unexpected bed bug situation in an apartment my son had recently moved into interrupted my search for a rental.  Suddenly, my son was without a home and I had a deadline to find myself a place.  We were tired.  The winter weather was cold and I was in severe physical pain.  Neither of us were able to continue looking, so we each rented an apartment in the flood zone.

The rain started late in the afternoon.  I hadn’t watched the news and was not aware of pending thunderstorms.

My dog, Ruthie, tried telling me the rain storm was unusual.  She barked loudly as soon as it started.  My gut grabbed me for a moment.

I opened the door and looked outside.  I could feel something different.  The rain was loud.

There were two birds here that I’d never seen before.  Cardinals were rushing to the feeders, getting more wet by the second.  As the rain continued, the birds kept feeding.  Water had soaked one cardinal’s wings and the poor bird struggled to stay in flight.

I quickly realized that everything in my home means a lot to me.  I’ve downsized and what is left isn’t replaceable.  Anxiety set in.

Family photos, art and crafts that either my son or mother created, and my pretty wooden clock that my sister gave to our immediate family members one year for Christmas, all went into the plastic tub.

I wrapped my little sculpture of a girl holding a bouquet of orange flowers to her face that my mother gave me for a birthday present about five or six years earlier.

Then of course, there’s the beautiful hand carved wooden spoon that I love.  My son made it from a large piece of Cherry when he was thirteen years old.  Without using power tools, he worked for many weeks chiseling, carving, sanding and shaping the wood.  How in the world can something like that be replaced?

I spent the best of four hours, while the downpour continued, putting things in high places, packing them in the plastic tubs and lastly, unplugging electrical devices.  I packed bags of clothes and necessities. 

Management sent a messenger to tell tenants to evacuate the parking lot.  Everyone moved their cars to higher ground.

Anxiety had me distressed.

Image of Haw River water currents

Currents Meet

Then, my son came over.  He was completely calm. 

At first, I was upset by this.  I mean, how could he be so calm, I wondered, when our homes might be flooded any moment!  I needed his help packing, I thought.

I felt disoriented.  I honestly wished I could have afforded a hotel, but since I couldn’t, then I was planning on driving to my mother’s home.  

After several hours of packing and listening to the downpour, along with seeing the families of other tenants come and go, taking their loved one with them, fatigue was overcoming me.  I would likely have to surrender my pride and perhaps, accept the invitations offered to us by two friends for nearby refuge.

My son had earlier gone to the store for water, drinks and snacks.  While I was running around packing stuff, he lied down on the floor with Ruthie and whispered in her ear.  This obviously relaxed her and since she is such a sensitive dog, I was grateful.

Within a few minutes, Ruthie was lying on her back with her legs in the air.  You know a dog is alright when they do that.  My son gently rubbed her little belly and continued talking softly to her.  

Ruthie and I both needed what he had to offer during the crisis.  I suppose he needed it too.

The worst of the storm came at midnight. 

The fire department and Red Cross had waited for hours on the other side of the bridge.  They had a rescue truck in our parking lot.  The water started to seep into the front door when I called them to say I was ready to leave.

Ruthie wouldn’t go outside.  I would need help carrying her to the rescue truck.  I was beginning to wonder if they would have to carry me as well.

My son had disappeared just before the water starting to come inside.  He’d gone to check on his own place.  I don’t think he realized how bad the situation could have been, until he saw the water rise to the level of my doorstep.  I had begged him not to leave because the water wasn’t only standing in our otherwise grassy lawn, but by that time, there was a current.

I didn’t want to leave without him.  I waited.

Within about fifteen more minutes the water started to go down.  I had a feeling the worst of the storm had passed, but the rescue team suggested that we leave in case of another downpour.

The water level had gone down enough so that Ruthie would walk on the sidewalk.  Three firefighters were at my door.  My son had told them I needed help.

“Where is my son?” I asked the men.

“He’s at the club house playing pool,” one answered.

Apparently, he wasn’t alone.  Floods are common and expected at this property.  Management opens up the club house for folks to gather, watch TV and play pool.

Ruthie and I walked with the men.  They carried my bags.  They were most enthusiastic about their duty, which fire fighters tend to get.

I had only seen three men, until we rounded the corner of the building.  There were six more waiting for us.  I couldn’t believe my eyes!

Ten strong beautiful men waiting to rescue me!

Thank you for visiting dogkisses!

Note:  I was right about the storm’s end when the creek reached the level of my door and fortunately, we didn’t have damage to the inside of our homes.  I did not refuse the help when one of the men offered to lift me up on the back of their truck.  How could I?

Advertisements

What I can’t say no to

How do you say no to nicotine addiction with severe anxiety going on?

I guess there are a few things I can’t say no to, but most likely, outside of not being able to say no to air, water and food, tobacco is the one thing I can’t say no to.

I didn’t begin this post with tobacco as my choice of something I can’t say no to.  I was going to tell you about something else, something more fun and exciting, but maybe I’ll go with the flow on what I’ve already written on this page.

Maybe I should tell it like it is how addicted I am to smoking and nicotine and how I feel like I’m going to explode, or rather implode, if I go too long without a cigarette.

I may be in denial because I had to pause to write the word cigarette.  It sounds ugly to me.  I wondered before I wrote the word if I want to tell of this awful habit, this complete failing of myself and my family, especially in my attempts to heal my body.  This one thing that feels like if I hadn’t ever started that my entire life would be different today.

I could have been a great athlete.  I could have gone to New York and studied modern dance.  I could have taken job offers as an aerobics and aquatic fitness instructor.  People offered to pay for my training, but smoking made me feel like going into a career like that would be misleading or false.

My habit got worse during a very bad time in 1996.  It got worse again in 2003 when both my son and I became ill.

One day during the summer of 2003 I was smoking a cigarette and thought of a local man whom everyone downtown knew.  He had schizophrenia because his older brother, “dosed him with large amounts of acid,” when he was fifteen years old.  He died in the mental institution when they committed him and put him on a new medication.  It was a tragic loss to all who knew him.  I didn’t know him as well as some of the men did, but I cried when he died.

I was having tremendous anxiety the day I remembered him.  I felt like smoking an entire pack at once, like he did.  He cleaned windows for local small businesses and the owners paid him in food and cigarettes.  He would wait until he had what looked like over a hundred cigarettes.  Then he would sit down at the coffee-house, put them all in a large pile between his legs, and smoke every last one of them back to back.

I always felt his anxiety when I saw him smoking.  He rocked back and forth and smoked hard and fast.

I saw myself in his memory that day I wanted all those cigarettes.  My son was in serious trouble in life and utter fear was overwhelming me with anxiety.  That summer, before my son finally received medical help, is when I remembered our friend who smoked the pile of cigarettes.  I went in the side room of my little home, opened the window, and smoked while I wrote an ode to him.

“The tobacco plant, Nicotiana, has probably been responsible for more deaths than any other herb. At present, tobacco smoking is causing over 3 million deaths a year worldwide, and if current smoking trends continue the annual mortality will exceed 10 million by around 2030.”  (1)

The Nicotiana plant isn’t what’s so bad.  It’s the addiction to smoking and nicotine that leads so many to the doorway of death.

A beautiful plant meant for healing not harming

Nicotiana tabacum

A beautiful plant meant to heal not harm

Nicotiana rustica

Nicotiana tabacum, the plant now raised for commercial tobacco production, is probably of South American origin and Nicotiana rustica, the other major species which was carried around the world, came from North America. In 1492, Columbus found Native Americans growing and using tobacco, sometimes for its pleasurable effects but often for treatment of various ills.”  (1)

“As early as 15 October 1492 Columbus noted that dried leaves were carried by a man in a canoe near the island of Ferdinandina because they were esteemed for their healthfulness.  In the same year, two members of his crew observed people in what is now Cuba carrying a burning torch that contained tobacco, the purpose of which (it later emerged) was to disinfect and help ward off disease and fatigue.”  (1)

One time a wasp stung me and my leg swelled and ached badly.  I put a compress of wet tobacco on it and the swelling went down immediately.  I wore a patch for a couple of days and my leg was fine.  My grandmother had taught me that when a bee stung my foot around age seven.  I loved walking barefoot and we had more than what I considered our share of bees.

I grew up in the 1970’s in a rural cotton mill town where everyone smoked, except my grandmother.  She was the only adult in my family that didn’t smoke.

I remember my dad smoking in the line at the grocery store, along with everyone else.  The store manager walked around with a wide broom to clean up the butts on the floor.  He didn’t seem to mind this at all.   He would greet people as he did this.  I didn’t think anything about it.

I smoked my first cigarette in elementary school.  I stole them from my grandpa.  They said he was blind, but he always knew when I reached into the drawer where he always had a carton of Winston’s.  I don’t know how he knew because the drawer was out of his sight in the hallway.  One day when I opened the drawer there was a dozen packs of Juicy Fruit.  He never kept his cigarettes there anymore.

I nearly passed out the first time I inhaled smoke, but that didn’t stop me.  I thought I was cool.  I would go behind the neighbor’s outdoor shed, which was beside the cow pasture and smoke.  I didn’t do it often, thank goodness.

It was when I was around fourteen that I began to practice the habit.  I’d ride my bicycle and hide a pack of Marlboro’s in my socks or if I wore my cow girl boots then it was quite easy.  Nearly all my friends would hide cigarettes in their boots.  The cool ones anyway.

I quit the habit when I was seventeen.  That was the year when I made life-changing good decisions.  I wanted good health and an education and I got both.  I had many accomplishments when I was seventeen.

I started back one day when my son was a young toddler.  I was sitting around the kitchen table at my former sister-in-law’s house.  I hadn’t thought of a cigarette in five years.  I was having a hard time being a single mother.

“Maybe you need one of these.  You need something to calm your nerves,” my dear in law said to me.

She handed me a Marlboro light.  I thought I’d smoke only one.  I was wrong.

I was going to write that I can’t say no to severe sexual desire that has gone past the point of no return, but I wrote a little about that in The Elusive Fence.

Thank you for visiting Dogkisses’s blog.  Please feel free to leave a comment.

(1) PubMed Central, Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, Medicinal uses of tobacco in history.

(2) Image of sign via Wiki Commons

Click on images of plants for Wikimedia Commons description.

Topic #60 from The Daily Post, “What can’t you say no to?”